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Patrick Mahomes is throwing with the conviction to sustain his success

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Looking at some of Mahomes’ throws in training camp, we see that he can build on last year’s success

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs-Training Camp Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

At this point in Kansas City Chiefs training camp, it feels audacious to say that reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes is showing improvement.

The problem — well, at least for the rest of the league — is that it’s true.

The growth Mahomes has displayed from his second training camp to the early looks this year in St. Joseph are noticeable. Obviously a lot a has happened since August 2018 — including the first of what will likely be many individual awards. But even starting from the last time we saw him leading his team to a furious comeback in January, Mahomes looks different.

While the lack of real action obviously keeps us from seeing how his growth will translate into on-field performance, clips available on social media give us some indicators. Some of these tell a story of a young player who’s hungry to take the next step in his career.

Here are two of my favorite throws so far — ones that exemplify the growth I’ve seen in Mahomes during training camp.

Processing speed

Ask a quarterback to explain everything they saw and did in the matter of mere seconds on one play and you won’t believe them. But it’s all true; there are many split-second decisions that can go into one play. Some of these are done simultaneously. There’s a lot to process, but the more reps and exposure that a quarterback gets, the quicker they can get to the right answer.

Mahomes’ clock has sped up even since we last saw him play. The time away has allowed him to analyze what he’s seen in the past and what he can glean from it — and how he can get to things more quickly.

Mahomes’ eyes are quick out of his play fake. He is able to quickly identify there is no safety in the middle of the field. That split second is all it takes for him to know Tyreek Hill has leverage on the post route; all he has to do is get the ball out for Hill to run under. You may also notice how he waits until the last second to get his eyes on the throw; he’s not giving away the back side post throw until he has to.

You also see how quick (and intentional) he is getting his foot in the ground and getting the ball out of his hands. The rare natural ability kicks in from there as he delivers a perfect ball with touch for a score.

This play goes hand-in-hand with the next one.

Confidence

I’m not saying Mahomes has ever lacked confidence — not at all. But I am saying that in training camp, he’s playing with a conviction to deliver balls in tight places without second-guessing himself. Without confidence, you can’t throw with anticipation — and Mahomes is showing plenty of confidence. His quick processing is allowing him to deliver everything with even more confidence than he had at this time last year.

It could be because he knows he’s not going to get hit, but this poise and conviction to athletically throw an up-and-down ball (with touch!) from the pocket against a free rusher can’t be taught; it only comes with the comfort he’s shown throughout camp — not just on this play, but others, too.

On a play like this last year, he might have looked to scramble — and perhaps he will when it’s live. But this appears even more sustainable than last season — and I bet we see more of this in 2019.

There are more steps for him to take

I know: it’s crazy to say. This doesn’t mean he’s going to throw 80 touchdowns someday. Although with this kid... who knows?

Patrick Mahomes isn’t resting on what he did last year. Instead, he’s evolving — which will make it more challenging for defenses to figure him out. This season, he’s going to face new things from some of the best defensive minds in the game, but he’s putting in the work to be prepared for those challenges and stay one step ahead of them. His mental ability is still tied to his rare athletic ability, which will present defenses with challenges of their own — even when they get the upper hand.

Quarterback is the toughest position in football. It requires time and effort to master it mentally. Mahomes is well on his way — first in his class — and has the raw talent to maximize his mental preparation.

When you’re seeing the field as clearly as he does, you’re tough to beat. Mahomes is built to sustain what we saw in 2018.